A while back, I amused myself by ranking all of the Eriador zones in Lord of the Rings Online. It was a fun exercise and one that I wanted to continue by looking at further regions of the game. So today, I want to do the same for Rhovanion.
So let’s start with the worst that Rhovanion has to offer and work our way up to the best!
I’ll preface this by saying that none of the zones on this list I truly despise. They’re going to range from “eh… it’s fine” to “really great.” So we’ll start with Iron Hills, which, eh, it’s fine. It’s kind of an ugly zone with monotonous craggy hills, some Dwarf stuff, and no great stories of note. I never stay there longer than required.
Grey Mountains (Ered Mithrin)
Grey Mountains came paired with Iron Hills as a one-two shot of mediocrity. It’s got a few interesting vistas, such as a strange-looking forest in the west, but it’s nothing special on the whole. The one aspect that I hate with a passion from this zone is Skarháld, a jumbled, multi-tiered Dwarf ruin that players are required to navigate multiple times. It’s always easy to get lost and annoying to get around, and it seriously made me grumpy at the Dwarves there.
LOTRO’s latest zone is doing double duty in both a “before” and “during” battle version. The battle landscape is more captivating by far, but the whole zone is kind of underwhelming. Like the above two regions, this one doesn’t have a lot of personality to it and is a dull entry point to the fall expansion city of Gundabad.
Wells of Langflood
It’s… pretty? I do like these river zones, and this one has a weird association with the Rohirrim that makes it notable. Wells of Langflood has some visually pleasing questing areas, a fact which is countered by sometimes troubling navigation up and down hills.
I know, it’s a bit of a cheat to throw ALL of Moria in with one mention, but I’m going to do it for the sake of keeping this list from becoming overwhelming. Besides, there isn’t much I could say about one Moria region that doesn’t apply to most of the rest. There are some terrific visuals, some very annoying places to traverse, and an overall sense of claustrophobia. It’s certainly a great achievement. A great collection of zones? I won’t go that far.
East Rohan (Eastemnet)
We’ll move into the two expansive Rohan zones. And they certainly ARE expansive, designed for the now-neglected mounted combat system. While there’s about 40% more questing here than we really needed to keep us occupied, I do like Rohan for its beauty, wide-open settings, interesting settlements, and interesting stories.
West Rohan (Westemnet)
And I’m going to place West Rohan one spot higher because it has Helm’s Deep, and that’s a deeply impressive addition that causes any Tolkien fan to geek out.
Visually, Lothlórien is flat-out amazing. The golden hues of this forest are refreshing after spending so much time in the flora-deprived Moria, and you do get a great sense of peace there. However, the questing is super-fluffy (hey! pick more flowers why don’t you!), the Elves weirdly antagonistic at first, and the treehouse city not that enjoyable to navigate.
Truth in advertising: Great River is a great zone. It’s got a lot of diversity, some terrific quest chains, and generally good-looking sights. It’s a terrific prologue to Rohan that actually upstages what is to come.
Vales of Anduin
By the time we got to Vales, I felt that we were due for a good “pretty” zone — and boy did we get it. Vales has Grimbeorn’s cabin, the genuinely misty Misty Mountains, a fantastic-looking bog, and even a Hobbity surprise. This is one of the best zones we’ve gotten in the past few years.
I’m a sucker for a really good snow zone, and Rohan’s Wildermore did me a solid with its presentation. It’s very well-designed with loads of interesting stories and nooks and crannies, and I think it does a great job conveying a sense of cold in a way that isn’t often done in MMOs.
Northern Mirkwood (Eryn Lasgalen) and Dale-lands
This feels like a cheat as well, since it’s kind of two zones smashed together to make one. Northern Mirkwood is far more murky than its southern neighbor, hosting a lot of tie-ins with The Hobbit. It’s perhaps a wee bit too dark and too long at times, but I’m inclined to forgive it — especially when I come out into the gorgeous Dale-lands and see Erebor in the distance. There’s a whole lot here, and so much of it is good.
Yet I’m going to claim the best Rohvanion zone — at least for my taste — is the O.G. Mirkwood. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve always loved it for its striking visuals, its very creepy atmosphere, the sheer variety, the Haunted Inn, and the way that the devs made you feel like there really was a campaign to reclaim the land from the Enemy’s forces.
That’s my list and my ranking — what is yours? Post your ranked Rhovanion list in the comments!